How Minnesota has Led the Way in River Clean-Up

cleaning up a mn river

Adopt-A-River with the Minnesota DNR

The Minnesota DNR (Department of Natural Resources) began its Adopt-A-River program back in the mid-80s. During its tenure over the program, the DNR oversaw 3,200 river clean-ups that removed 6.5 million pounds of trash from 11,000 miles of public waterways. Over 90,000 volunteers stepped up to help.

Then in 2016, the program transitioned to Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa, a long-time partner of the Minnesota DNR.

Adopt-A-River with the Conservation Corps

If you’re unfamiliar with Conservation Corps and what they do: The mission of the Conservation Corps is to provide “hands-on environmental stewardship and service-learning opportunities to youth and young adults while accomplishing conservation, natural resource management and emergency response work.”

river trash
Items found in and removed from Minnesota's waterways

Conservation Corps’ Adopt-A-River program engages community members and organizations in caring for waterways across the state of Minnesota. Waterways adopted includes rivers, lakes, streams, ponds and creeks.

Unfortunately, not everyone who lives by, works by and uses waterways feels the same degree of concern about keeping them clean. So Conservation Corps is doing its part to educate young people who are concerned, and give them plenty of experience.

Their Youth Positions (ages 15-18) provide opportunities for ongoing summer programs, after-school programs and introductions to environmental careers.

Their AmeriCorp Positions (ages 18-25) go even further. These young adults gain hands-on job and leadership skills while working side-by-side with professionals and government agencies in conservation fields.

Adopt-A-River is one of the key initiatives sponsored by Conservation Corps. But you don’t have to be a young person to get involved…

How You Can be Involved

Any resident can register with Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa to remove trash and debris from shoreline areas. You can participate by adopting a watershed in your area and hosting cleanups at least once a year. Very simple!

kayakers adopt-a-river

Conservation Corps suggests: “Some of the best cleanup locations are in areas that are frequently flooded, at the edges of retention ponds and wetlands, or are next to roads or parking lots.”

Or choose a favorite fishing spot, or canoeing or kayaking lake or river. Your local public works department can give you suggestions of areas near you that especially need it.

Go to the Get Involved page on their website for all the details, including Frequently Asked Questions and how to report your activities.

(Sources: MN DNR Adopt-a-River history; Conservation Corp Adopt-A-River program; photos courtesy of Conservation Corp Minnesota & Iowa)

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